Joyce Danso, GNA
Accra Jan. 15, GNA - Twenty-one Environmental and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have sued government in their bid to halt Mining of Bauxite in the Atewa Forest Reserve.
The CSOs led by A Rocha Ghana and Flower Ghana have filed a notice of instituting civil action against the government through the Attorney General on January 13 this year.
Joined in the suit are Awula Serwa and Mr Oteng Agyei, citizens of Ghana are instituting the action to protect and safeguard the environment pursuant to the constitutional duty imposed on them under Article 14 (k) of the Constitution of Ghana.
In the notice of civil action against government, the CSOs and the two citizens said they supported government in its quest to develop Ghana through the exploiting of the country’s natural resources.
However, they said, Ghana did not need to exploit the Atewa Forest Bauxite reserve because “there are far richer bauxite, but considering the critical importance of the Forest Reserve in the supply of water, biodiversity, it will be best not to exploit the Atewa Range Forest.
The organisations believe that the Ghana Integrated Aluminum Development Cooperation (GIADEC) had 900 million tons of bauxite minerals across the country.
“It is estimated that Nyinahin alone has 700 million tonnes, while Awaso and Kyebi contain 60million and 160 million tons respectively. It implies that only 17.78 per cent of Ghana‘s bauxite can be found in Kyebi, the area within which Atewa range Forest could be found.
Over 82 per cent of Ghana’s bauxite can be mined without compromising the existence if the Atewa Range Forest.”
The organisations explained that the action was based on the fact that the government of Ghana in 2017 signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the People’s Republic of China to develop a bauxite industry in Ghana with Atewa Range Forest as one of the sources of raw materials.
Based on that, the organisations embarked on series of campaigns against the decision to mine bauxite at the said location.
The CSOs and the two private citizens in a letter dated July 6, 2018 urged the President to protect the Atewa Forest, but the President has “evinced no interest in the cause.”
“Several walks have been organised to create awareness among Ghanaians and over 150,000 individuals across the globe have now added their voices to petitions calling for Atewa Range Forest to be protected. Government of Ghana has consistently demonstrated no interest at all.”
The organisation further held that the Forest was a “site of high diversity value and protected the water shed for three major rivers and several other steams serving clean water to five million Ghanaians.”
They contended that if mining takes place in the said forest, there would be loss of biodiversity, loss of access to clean water, buildup of Green Houses gases, loss of climate amelioration services, Loss of medicinal or economic valuable plants and change in tourism potential area.
The CSO’s were therefore seeking a declaration that the right to life and dignity as enshrined in the Constitution include; the right to a clean and healthy environment and the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of future generations.
They are also seeking a declaration that “mining of bauxite in the Atewa Range Forest violates the right to life and dignity as enshrined under Articles 13 and 15 of the Constitution.
According to them, they were also seeking an order, compelling the government of Ghana and its agents to take the necessary steps to protect Atewa range Forest in accordance with its constitutional obligation as contained under article 36(9) of the Constitution.
Additionally they are seeking an order, restraining the government of Ghana and its assigns and agents, servant and workmen, allots and guarantees whatsoever and howsoever described from undertaking mining and its related activities in the Atewa Range Forest.”
The CSO’s include; Save the Frogs Ghana, Help Ghana, Ghana Institute of Foresters, Ghana Wildlife Society, the Development Institute, Friend of the Earth Ghana, Tropenbos Ghana Coalitio of NGO’s against Mining Atewa, Christian Council of Ghana, KASA Ghana, EcoCare Ghana, Amphibian Survival Alliance, Birdlife International, Global Wildlife Conservation and Rainforest Trust.
Mr Martin Kpebu a private legal practitioner is billed to lead the legal team of the CSOs.